Posted on July 15, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Shelby Miller may have just hit rock bottom in what has been a nightmare of a season. The Diamondbacks announced Thursday night that Miller will not be with the team when they begin the second half of their season on Friday, as he has been optioned to triple-A. In 14 starts this season, Miller is 2-9 with an ERA of 7.14, a far cry from the guy they acquired to be their no. 2 starter behind Zack Greinke this season.
Miller was not the least bit surprised when he received the news. “I’ve been struggling up here for a while,” he said Thursday. “I’m surprised I stayed up here this long.” The Diamondbacks were hopeful that a finger injury had been part of the reason for his poor start to the season. He went on the DL in late May and after nearly a month away, Miller showed signs of life in his first start back. However, he has not fared well in his three starts since then, finally prompting the Diamondbacks to send him to triple-A.
“For me, personally, to go down there, obviously you never want that to happen,” Miller said. “My goal is to go down there, figure some things out, and get back here as quick as possible.” Lefty Edwin Escobar will take Miller’s place on the roster, while Zack Godley will move into Arizona’s starting rotation.
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“We just have to find a way to getting him back to pitching the way he can,” Arizona manager Chip Hale said about Miller after his demotion. “It’s a disappointing move for us to make as coaches. You always feel like we’re here to make them better ballplayers and pitchers, and we’ve dropped the ball with him. Obviously it’s something that hurts. It’s not easy for a guy that’s had that much success in the big leagues.”
Miller said he spend the all-star break watching video of himself, trying to find some clues to help him turn things around. “The biggest thing is to get back to maybe a little bit simpler and not so much forcing things and trying to make a perfect pitch,” he explained. “I think that’s when mechanics come easier and everything kind of flows and feels free. Hopefully I can get to that point and get back up here.”
However, Hale said Thursday that Miller’s mechanics aren’t an issue; he’s simply struggling with the mental side of the game, making his struggles this season difficult to overcome. Hale said that Miller will be treated like any other minor league player and that his performance will determine whether he returns to the big leagues or not. “It could be the rest of the year, it could be a couple of weeks, who knows,” Hale said.
Miller’s demotion makes the trade to acquire him look like a disaster from Arizona’s perspective. The Diamondbacks gave up outfielder Ender Inciarte, pitcher Aaron Blair, and shortstop Dansby Swason, the top overall pick in last year’s draft, to acquire Miller.
Now the question Miller must answer is whether he’s able to turn things around and get himself back to the big leagues and performing like the pitcher the Diamondbacks envisioned when they traded for him. Meanwhile, the question the Diamondbacks may need to answer is whether they want to offer Miller arbitration for next season or simply part ways with him and cut their losses after the season.